Monday, January 31, 2011

All-American Beef Battalion

While we were in Wichita for the Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Conference I had the privilege of meeting Bill Broadie.  Bill has spent his entire life in the beef industry except for the years his gave to his county.  He's a Vietnam War veteran that, like many of his fellow soldiers, didn't receive the hero's welcome he should have when he came home from the war.

It's hard for me to understand why this would ever happen but Bill wanted to make sure that our current soldiers didn't have to experience the same thing.  He combined his passion for the beef industry with his appreciation for our nation's returning heroes when he formed the All-American Beef Battalion.  It's a program that feeds our troops and their families the best home-cooked steak dinner imaginable when they return home from the war.

Going out for a nice steak dinner with our families is something that most of us take for granted.  But these soldiers haven't seen their families in months or years and during that time they certainly weren't eating at a nice restaurant.  Listening to Bill tell the stories of how much our troops appreciate this simple act of appreciation will bring a tear to anyone's eye and make you appreciate everything you have.

It was a privilege for me to donate to this cause and I would really encourage all of you to support it as well.  They are a non-profit that relies on donations of money, time and beef to make this happen.  If they can't get that then our troops don't get to enjoy one of these meals.  Amazingly they have fed over 60,000 steak dinners in the past couple of years but there are more heroes returning home everyday that deserve the same.

Bill is serving his country for the second time in his life, let's give him the appreciation and support he should have gotten the first time.

SDSU Students Study Unwanted Horse Issues

SDSU students outline unwanted horse problem
    Steve Miller Journal correspondent | Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:00 am | (2) Comments

    The number of unwanted horses in the United States is growing by nearly 150,000 a year since the closing of the last U.S. slaughter plants, and no single, easy solution is in sight.

    Those were some conclusions of a study conducted by students in South Dakota State University’s animal and range sciences department.

    Ten students presented their study Friday to a small audience at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center during the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo.

    In 2006, the year before the last three horse slaughtering plants closed in the United States, about 105,000 horses were killed, said first-year graduate student Kathy Koch of Crofton, Neb.

    The plants were forced to close after Congress eliminated funding for federal inspection of horse meat for human consumption.

    Since then, thousands of unwanted U.S. horses have been going to slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada.
    An outright ban on the sale or transportation of horses for slaughter is pending in Congress.

    Koch said there are now about 170,000 unwanted horses each year.

    She said that even if all 432 adoption facilities in the country could take 50 horses each, only 21,600 horses could be adopted, leaving a net of 148,400 unwanted horses.    Read More

    The issue of unwanted horses continues to grow.  While many of the animal rights activists think everything is fine and refuse to engage in real discussions of how to handle so many unwanted horses, there plenty of people in agriculture that are looking at a real problem and offering real solutions.  There seems to be plenty of people that think we live in a world where nothing ever dies and life is always happy and easy.  The real story is this, the only way life can continue to exist on this planet is if something dies every day.  The success of life depends on death.  We have the ability to use these livestock as a resource that not only assists us in their life but also in their death.  There's nothing wrong with using horses to feed people.  For thousands of years we have relied on livestock to benefit our lives and that still holds true today.  The cruelest thing we can do for these horses, to mother nature and to ourselves is waste this natural resource.  

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Talking Agriculture with Mike Rowe

    Last weekend Stacy and I had the privilege of meeting with Mike Rowe.  If you haven't heard of Mike you've probably been living under a rock for the past six or seven years.  He's practically become the face of the Discovery Channel with his hit show Dirty Jobs and along the way he's also become the face of the American worker. 

    Through his experiences doing Dirty Jobs across the country he's come to realize and appreciate that everything we have is either grown or mined from the earth.  Along with that his appreciation for the people that do that work has grown.

    Out of that the website was born.  It's a site dedicated to educating people about the importance of skilled trade workers, including farmers and ranchers.  Through that Mike happened to find my youtube video where I dumped a bottle of Yellow Tail wine on the frozen ground to tell people that they had made a donation to the world's wealthiest animal rights group, the Humane Society of the United States. 

    Our work with the Farm American project also caught Mike's eye and they featured a blog post of mine about the program on their site.  When it turned out that we were all going to be in Atlanta at the American Farm Bureau Federation meeting we were able to finally meet in person. 

    Mike and his team were very interested to hear about our efforts to advocate for agriculture, including our work with the Farm American program.  Mike gets a lot of requests to be spokesman.  In fact he was the most sought after spokesman in the world in 2010.  His name has been thrown around many times in the world of agriculture as someone that would be a great spokesman for our industry.  But Mike can wisely see that we don't need a single spokesman, we need lots and lots of advocates for agriculture.  Mike isn't an expert in food production, not the way that farmers and ranchers are.  So while he is certainly willing to help share the story, ultimately we are the ones that need to be doing it. 

    Mike also highlighted the efforts of the Farm American program as a great way for farming and ranching families to spread their message.  He was impressed by the unselfish efforts of Furniture Row to start the program because it was the right thing to do, not as a way to pay for a race team.  When you explain to someone all of the things we could do with Farm American to tell the story of agriculture it starts sounding too good to be true.  One look at the race car proves the intentions of Furniture Row though.  There's not a single mention of Furniture Row on the car.  That really caught the attention of Mike as it has with so many others. 

    We are really looking forward to a continued partnership with Mike and his team at to tell the story of agriculture.  Mike is a genuine guy who was a pleasure to meet and visit with.  He's certainly a friend of every hard working American and as he put it, a big fan of "chewing and swallowing".  It was a real pleasure to spend a few hours "chewing and swallowing" with him last week. 

    You've heard me telling you to be an advocate for agriculture, now hear it from Mike Rowe.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Free Estate Planning Webinar

    I posted an article a few weeks ago talking about estate planning and the personal responses I got back were great.  There's no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most difficult things that farming and ranching families have to deal with.  It's also one of those things that an expert must be used to complete. Finding that expert to guide your family along the estate planning path is hard.  

    Stacy and I have found that expert and have developed a partnership with him to help bring the best estate planning tool to you. Randy McKee, is a nationally recognized expert on guiding farming and ranching families through this difficult process.  He's South Dakota born and raised, has a passion for agriculture and mostly, he has a passion for helping families in agriculture. 

    Because of the interest that so many of you have, including me, on this topic Randy has graciously scheduled a free webinar to talk about some of the sucessful strategies he's developed for families to use.  Everything from dealing with family relationships (good and bad) to learning the pieces of an estate plan will be discussed. 

    Please take advantage of this unique opportunity.  All the details on how to register for this free webinar are posted below. 

    Your friend in ag,


    A quality estate plan can literally save your place (farm) from negatives such as estate taxes, family fights, legal losses and uninsured losses.

    During this short, 45-minute seminar you will learn why it is so important to take care of estate planning. We will also introduce the most effective tool available today - specifically designed to educate and motivate farm and ranch families to get that estate planning work completed. This is the national webinar premier for this program and you are sure to learn some valuable strategies and enjoy the content.

    Title: "Persuading The In-Charge Generation To Do Estate Planning"

    Date: Thursday, January 13, 2011

    The webinar will be offered at: 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM EST and  8:00 PM - 9:00 PM MST

    Register now by clicking the link below:

    After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Summit of the Horse

    U.S. NEWS
    JANUARY 5, 2011

    Horse Slaughter Is Reconsidered
    Animal-Welfare Groups Are Joining Ranchers in a Push to Revive an Industry That Died in 2007

    Less than four years after the last equine slaughterhouses in the U.S. closed down, an unlikely coalition of ranchers, horse owners and animal-welfare groups is trying to bring them back.

    The group, gathering in Las Vegas this week for a conference called Summit of the Horse, aims to map out a strategy for reviving an industry that slaughtered as many as 100,000 horses a year in the U.S. before it was effectively shut down by congressional action in 2007.

    Advocates say the slaughterhouses could bring an economic boost to rural areas and give owners who no longer have the means or inclination to care for the horses an economical and humane way to dispose of them.

    "We believe that humane processing is absolutely a moral and an ethical choice," said Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state lawmaker who organized the event.

    Animal-rights supporters have been lobbying Congress for a ban on exporting horses for slaughter. They've had no success—but even if a ban did pass, some activists say, it would do little to ease suffering, as owners desperate to shed responsibility for their animals might simply abandon them to starve. Hiring a veterinarian to euthanize and dispose of a horse can cost hundreds of dollars. Horse-rescue groups take in some unwanted animals, but they don't have the resources to care for them all.

    "Every day, I'm turning horses away. I feel like I'm playing God, because I have to pick and choose," said Whitney Wright, director of Hope for Horses, a rescue group in Asheville, N.C. She worked to shut down slaughterhouses but now would like to see a few reopen under strict guidelines for humane handling.

    Read More

    There is no doubt that there is an over-abundance of horses in this country. The availability of a domestic harvest facility would greatly reduce the suffering that is currently taking place. The Summit of the Horse is currently taking place where discussions about this very thing are taking place. While animal rights activists like to spend their time mocking those of us who raise livestock and provide food for this country, we are having the serious discussions that need to take place.

    Food Safety

    California organic beef producer recalls meat over E. coli concerns

    January 3, 2011
    10:47 am

    There’s nothing that dampens your New Year's appetite like a food-safety recall, particularly one for an organic ground-beef product.

    Federal officials announced Monday that First Class Foods Inc., an organic beef producer based in Hawthorne, has recalled 34,373 pounds of organic ground beef and hamburger patties due to concern that they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

    E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, kidney failure or, in the most severe cases, death.

    There have been no reports of illness connected to these products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the company. The bacterium was found during a routine company test of its facilities, according to the FSIS.     Read More

    There have been plenty of misconceptions about different types of food production methods.  Specifically in beef production there are some that have tried to convince consumers that organic production makes for safer beef.  Regardless of how beef cattle are raised there are going to be E. Coli that live in the digestive tract of the cattle.  When we harvest cattle, regardless of the production method used to raise them, precautions must be taken to ensure no contamination takes place.  This is true for all types of food coming from all types of production methods.